Ahead of the third College Football Playoff rankings of 2017, the Spartan Red Zone crew gives their predictions of what the committee will decide. Two of the top four teams went down, both on the road, with other teams having credible reasons to jump into the top four with just two weeks left to go in the regular season. The rankings will be announced at 9 p.m. on ESPN, live from Chicago between the Champions Classic games.
Zachary Swiecicki (@zachswies)
Bubble: Wisconsin, Auburn, Georgia, Ohio State
The wild season in college football continues, as we almost saw all top three teams go down for the first time since 1966. Alabama held on against Mississippi State, but the SEC race got a little more interesting with Auburn controlling Georgia. Miami blew out Notre Dame and should face Clemson in the ACC title game. Oklahoma took care of TCU and is in control of their own destiny.
Clemson won, but struggled to put away Florida State, keeping them at No. 4. In the same breath, the argument could be made for Wisconsin to jump the Tigers after the Badgers’ convincing win over Iowa. Because of the head-to-head loss, UGA falls behind Auburn, creating a consensus top six, in my opinion. Ohio State once again gave fans a glimpse at what their talent-stacked roster could do, but the Buckeyes will more than likely have to win out, including a B1G Championship, for any shot at a spot in the playoffs.
The entire top 25 will be shaken up this week, and there will be plenty of questions heading up to the rankings release — How far will the committee drop teams that lost (ND, TCU, UW, MSU)? How will they value the undefeated’s (Miami, Wisconsin, UCF)? How much will they punish teams with three losses (Miss St, LSU, Stanford, NW)?
Joey Ellis (@jellis1016)
Bubble: Auburn, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Georgia
Auburn’s dominant win over top-ranked Georgia is impressive, and even with two losses, their season finale Iron Bowl matchup with Alabama has much more meaning now. If Auburn were to win out, including beating Georgia twice and a win over Alabama sandwiched in between, the committee would have a really tough time leaving out an 11-2 SEC champion from the playoff.
Wisconsin’s playoff scenarios don’t change much through week 11. It’s likely Michigan enters tonight’s rankings back in the top-25, so a win over the Wolverines this Saturday would add another top-25 win to their bleak resume, in addition to their win over No. 20 Iowa last week. If the Badgers win out and beat a top-10 Ohio State team in the Big Ten Championship game, the committee will have to include an undefeated Big Ten champ in the top four.
Ohio State is in a similar position to Auburn as a really impressive two-loss team. After the Buckeyes slipped up in Iowa City, they rolled Michigan State in dominant and convincing fashion, reminding many people of how good this OSU team can be. They’ll need a lot of help and some slip-ups from teams ahead of them, but if the Buckeyes win out and beat Wisconsin in Indianapolis, based on their resume and the eye-test, they present a legitimate case to be considered one of the best four teams.
The two-team SEC scenario is not dead just yet. Alabama would have to beat Auburn in two weeks and finish the season 12-0 before losing to Georgia in the SEC title game. If Georgia is to win out and knock off the Tide in Atlanta and finish 11-1, the Dawgs would find themselves in the playoff with the committee also having a hard time leaving out a 12-1 Alabama team.
Kyle Turk (@kyleturk5)
Bubble: Clemson, Ohio State, Wisconsin, UCF
Miami’s big win over Notre Dame coupled with a potential ACC title game win over Clemson would be enough for me to jump Oklahoma, although Oklahoma’s wins over Ohio State and a potential Big 12 championship complicates things.
The Sooners’ win over TCU only further solidifies their spot in the playoff. Wisconsin’s win over Iowa is solid, but their play against Michigan and Ohio State will decide whether or not they end up in the field of four.
After Auburn’s blowout win over Georgia at the weekend, there’s no reason they can’t beat Alabama at home in two weeks. Their performances over the last few weeks will definitely look good to the committee if it values a team’s play in the late stages of the season.
Andy Chmura (@andy_chmura)
Bubble: Auburn, Wisconsin, Ohio State
Miami has a strong case for No. 1 following two consecutive victories over top-15 opponents, the latter a 41-8 thrashing of No. 3 Notre Dame. Still, Alabama is Alabama and there’s no way the committee would leapfrog the Canes over the Crimson Tide, especially following Alabama’s road victory over No. 16 Mississippi State. Clemson, meanwhile, is doing just enough to stay in the top four barring another loss.
It seems like since Oklahoma’s loss to Iowa State in early October, people have been writing off the Sooners. Some figured that the Big 12 wouldn’t have any teams in the playoff. But, since Oct. 7, two things have happened. 1) An Iowa State loss is looking much more respectable by the minute. 2) The Sooners have continued to grind it out every single week even with a tough schedule. An 18-point win over No. 6 TCU put a bow on it.
Wisconsin is one step closer to the playoff with a solid win over No. 20 Iowa combined with Georgia and Notre Dame’s blowout losses. But they’re still going to need some help before reaching the top four. Luckily for the Badgers, Clemson and Miami have yet to play each other. Auburn, meanwhile, could easily find the playoff with a win over Bama and an SEC Championship with a win over Georgia. For the Buckeyes, a lot of things still need to go their way. A blowout win over No. 12 Michigan State, combined with a meeting with potentially unbeaten Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game makes them hard to ignore.